Greed

GREED (בֶּ֫טֶן, H1061; LXX ὑπἀρχωσιν; נָעִים, H5833; LXX ψυχή, G6034; NT πλεονεξία, πλεονέκτης). (1) Eager, unrestrained, insatiate longing, esp. for wealth or gain; avarice, cupidity, covetousness; (2) immoderate or ravenous hunger, esp. for food or drink; (3) in a good sense: keen, avid desire for knowledge, holiness, etc. The term “greed” is not found in the KJV but it appears seven times in the RSV as follows:

1. Job 20:20: beṭen, “belly,” “body,” “womb”; as seat of passion, “avarice”; LXX hypárchosin, “possessions”; Vul. venter, “entrails”; Luther Wanst, “belly”; KJV “belly”; ASV “within.”

2. Ezekiel 16:27: nepes, “seat of emotions and passions,” e.g. “desire”; LXX psychás, “wills”; Vul. animas, “minds”; Luther Willen, “wishes”; KJV, ASV, Moffat “will”; Berkeley “preferences.” Nepesh occurs 756 times in the OT.

3. Habakkuk 2:5: nepes; LXX psychē, “desire”; Vul. anima, “soul”; Luther Seele, “heart”; KJV, ASV “desire.”

4. 1 Corinthians 5:11: pleonéktēs, “one who is greedy for gain,” “a covetous person”; Vul. avarus, “eagerly desirous of something, esp. possessions,” “avaricious,” “covetous,” “greedy”; Luther Geiziger, “miser”; KJV, RSV, ASV “covetous”; Moffat “lustful”; NEB “grasping”; Berkeley “greedy.” Pleonéktēs has been used since Herodotus. It occurs four times in the NT; once on a vellum fragment of Oxyr. Pap. from perhaps the 3rd cent. a.d.

5. 1 Thessalonians 2:5: pleonexía, “greediness,” “avarice,” “insatiableness,” “covetousness,” lit. “a desire to have more”; Vul. avaritiae, “a greedy desire for possessions”; Luther Habsucht, “avarice”; KJV, RSV, ASV “covetousness”; Moffat “self-seeking”; Berkeley “money.” Pleonexia occurs in Herodotus, Thucydides, LXX, Epistle of Aristeas, Philo, Jos., Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs; ten times in the NT. The RSV “cloak for greed” (subjective gen.) means “pretext for avarice.”

6. 2 Peter 2:3: pleonexía, u.s.; Vul. avaritia; Luther Habsucht; KJV, ASV “covetousness”; Moffat “lust.” Pleonexía is a genuine vernacular term (cf. MM).

7. 2 Peter 2:14: pleonexía, u.s.; Vul. avaritia; Luther Habsucht; KJV, “covetous”; RSV, ASV “covetousness”; Moffat “lust.” (For pleonexía in a good sense cf. Epictetus ii. 10.9.)




It is commended only by the wicked (Ps 10:3); believers hate (Exod 18:21; Acts 20:33). Both Isaiah (5:8) and Habakkuk (2:9) denounced it; Jesus warned His disciples to beware of it (Luke 12:15).

This sin can cause one to miss heaven (1 Cor 6:10; Eph 5:5). It shall abound in the last days (2 Tim 3:2; 2 Pet 2:1-3) but those who hate it will be rewarded (Prov 28:16). Believers ought to (1) pray against (Ps 119:36), (2) mortify (Col 3:5), and (3) avoid those guilty of (1 Cor 5:11).


Bibliography

J. Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion (1949), III. vii. 9; M. Luther, Selected Psalms II, Vol. XIII, Works (c1956), 392f.; T. Laetsch, The Minor Prophets (1956), 151, 161f.; D. M. Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, II (1962), 86-96.